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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

What's wrong this this picture:

FARGO, ND - Local Republican operatives compile blacklist, make sure no Democrats attend "town meeting" with Bush.

WASHINGTON, DC - National Republican operatives give male escort daily passes to press rooom, where he offers "lifeline" to both Bush's press secretary and Bush when they face hard questions.

Come on. You're telling me the Republicans in the famously disciplined Bush White House didn't know exactly who and what "Jeff Gannon" was?

Or should we bring some of those Fargo operatives up to DC to tighten things up?

Foto funnies: This picture needs a caption! 

Massive Bush takedown by Froomkin 

It seems like Froomkin has finally lost patience. And about time, too.

It was an amazing moment: After the introductory comments, Andrey Kolesnikov, a correspondent for the Russian business newspaper Kommersant, got up and said -- albeit not so succinctly, and not in English -- Hey, no wonder you guys see eye to eye! You're both authoritarians.

This prompted Bush to launch into a possibly unprecedented defense of himself as a democratic leader. He did it by describing his view of the country.

"[BUSH] I live in a transparent country.

Cadre grows to rein in message; Ranks of federal public affairs officials have swelled under Bush to help tighten control on communiques to media, access to information, Newsday, Feb. 24, 2005; Administration Paid Commentator; Education Dept. Used Williams to Promote 'No Child' Law, Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2005; Groups raise concerns about increased classification of documents,, Oct. 27, 2004.

"I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open and people are able to call people to -- me to account, which many out here do on a regular basis.

High Court Backs Vice President; Energy Documents Shielded for Now, Washington Post, June 25, 2004; Mr. President, will you answer the question?,, Dec. 3, 2004; Bush Says Election Ratified Iraq Policy, Washington Post, Jan. 16, 2005 (in which Bush says: "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections.")

"Our laws and the reasons why we have laws on the books are perfectly explained to people. Every decision we have made is within the Constitution of the United States. We have a constitution that we uphold.

How U.S. rewrote terror law in secrecy; White House group devised new system in aftermath of 9/11, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004; In Cheney's Shadow, Counsel Pushes the Conservative Cause, Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2004; Slim Legal Grounds for Torture Memos; Most Scholars Reject Broad View of Executive's Power, Washington Post, July 4, 2004.

"And if there's a question as to whether or not a law meets that constitution, we have an independent court system through which that law is reviewed.

• Recount 2000: Decision Sharpens the Justices' Divisions; Dissenters See Harm to Voting Rights and the Court's Own Legitimacy, Washington Post, Dec. 13, 2000; Scalia Won't Sit Out Case On Cheney; Justice's Memo Details Hunting Trip With VP, Washington Post, March 19, 2004.

"So I'm perfectly comfortable in telling you our country is one that safeguards human rights and human dignity, and we resolve our disputes in a peaceful way."

Torture at Abu Ghraib, the New Yorker, May 10, 2004; Ground War Starts, Airstrikes Continue As U.S. Keeps Focus on Iraq's Leaders, Washington Post, March 21, 2003.

(via WaPo)

Pin this one up on the fridge; xerox it, and hand it out in the streets.

The reality-based blogging community couldn't have said it better.

Whiny Joe has non-custodial relationship with balls 

What was Al Gore thinking? Anyhow:

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid has declared that Senate Democrats are united in their opposition to personal accounts carved out of Social Security. That is a deal-killer if true, since as a practical matter the most controversial ideas typically need a supermajority of 60 votes to end filibusters and allow a vote. Despite Reid's assertion, however, several moderate Democrats have not ruled out backing a more modest version of the president's plan.

Some of these centrists, such as Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), have been meeting with Republican colleagues to discuss whether there is a middle ground.
(via WaPo)

"Centrists"... My God.

Modo blows a gasket on "Jeff Gannon" (and about time, too) 

OK, so maybe Modo's all cheesed off because she couldn't get a White House Press pass, while working boy "Jeff Gannon" eased into the White House press room on a daily basis. Wouldn't you be?

It was remarkable to see President Bush lecture Vladimir Putin on the importance of checks and balances in a democratic society.

Remarkably brazen, given that the only checks Mr. Bush seems to believe in are those written to the "journalists" Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Karen Ryan, the fake TV anchor, to help promote his policies. The administration has given a whole new meaning to checkbook journalism, paying a stupendous $97 million to an outside P.R. firm to buy columnists and produce propaganda, including faux video news releases.

As we keep saying—that's a budget for 200 media whores Secretly Paid Policy Advocates, and we know about 6. Who are the other 194? (back)

This White House seems [I know not "seems"!] to prefer softball questions from a self-advertised male escort with a fake name to hardball questions from journalists with real names; it prefers tossing journalists who protect their sources into the gulag to giving up the officials who broke the law by leaking the name of their own C.I.A. agent.
(via Times)

Nice to see all this finally make it somewhere in the Times, but where was The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) when this shitstorm was building?

Scientific Creation Destruction 101 

DarkSyd at Unscrewing the Inscrutable has been persuaded to adjust his lesson plan:

Science For Right-Wing Dummies

And now our feature attraction ... Judging by the continuing steady trickle of rather bizare e-mails from supporters of creationism who also happen to be self proclaimed 'right-wing patriots', and the continued flow of wingers on Pharyngula who claim to be against science on behalf of God, I must; I admit don't seem to be getting through on this whole science thing.

Then I had an epiphany! I've been going about it all wrong. I've been stressing accuracy, evidence, references, peer review, methodology, and testability/faslifiability. That's way, way too complicated for Neo-Christian extremists! Besides, to help wingers understand the importance of science, all I needed to do was point out that science helps us Smite the Dirty Heathens with God's Holy Wrath, i.e. killing human beings, bombing civilians, shooting women and children more accurately, and poisoning their air, crops, and water supplies, much more effectively! - continued here


The Imperial Follies' Rockettes 

Emperors we never knew. Worth a quick review in these dark and troubled times. From Eutropius’s History of Rome (Watson translation):

JULIUS Caesar returned to Rome, and began to conduct himself with too great arrogance, contrary to the usages of Roman liberty. As he disposed, therefore, at his own pleasure, of those honours, which were before conferred by the people and did not even rise up when the senate approached him, an d exercised regal, or almost tyrannical power, in other respects, a conspiracy was formed against him by sixty or more Roman senators and knights. The chief among the conspirators were the two Bruti, (of the family of that Brutus who had been made first consul of Rome, and who had expelled the kings) Caius Cassius, and Servilius Casca. Caesar, in consequence, having entered the senate house with the rest, on a certain day appointed for a meeting of the senate, was stabbed with three and twenty wounds.

TIBERIUS distinguished his reign by great indolence, excessive cruelty, unprincipled avarice, and abandoned licentiousness. He fought on no occasion in person; the wars were carried on by his generals. Some kings, whom he induced to visit him by seducing allurements, he never sent back; among them was Archelaus of Cappadocia, whose kingdom also he reduced to the form of a province, and directed that its principal city should be called after his own name; and, having been before called Mazaca, it is now termed Caesarea. He died in Campania, in the three and twentieth year of his reign, and the eighty-third of his age, to the great joy of all men.

NERO, who greatly resembled his uncle Caligula, both disgraced and weakened the Roman empire; he indulged in such extraordinary luxury and extravagance, that, after the example of Caius Caligula, he even bathed in hot and cold perfumes, and fished with golden nets, which he drew up with cords of purple silk. He put to death a very great number of the senate. To all good men he was an enemy. At last he exposed himself in so disgraceful a manner, that he danced and sung upon the stage in the dress of a harp-player and tragedian. He was guilty of many murders, his brother, wife, and mother, being put to death by him. He set on fire the city of Rome, that he might enjoy the sight of a spectacle such as Troy formerly presented when taken and burned.

When, having become detestable by such conduct to the city of Rome, and being deserted at the same time by every one, and declared an enemy by the senate, he was sought for to be led to punishment (the punishment being, that he should be dragged naked through the streets, with a fork placed under his head, be beaten to death with rods, and then hurled from the Tarpeian rock), he fled from the palace, and killed himself in a suburban villa of one of his freed-men, between the Salarian and Nomentane roads, at the fourth milestone from the city. He built those hot baths at Rome, which were formerly called the Neronian, but now the Alexandrian. He died in the thirty-second year of his age, and the fourteenth year of his reign; and in him all the family of Augustus became extinct.

Not that there are any historical parallels or anything, here. I’m just saying it pays to know your imperial history.

Talon Newzi's Parade of Plagarism marches on... 

More examples of cut and paste journalism. Via rab at Why Are We Back In Iraq:
How To "Write" Like Jeff Gannon: Example #1

Ya know, ya gotta wonder if the JD Gannon "the White House Porn Cannon" is even attached to his own penis. Who knows these days. Maybe he borrowed Ann Coulter's. That would explain a lot of things.


I know you're out there - I can hear you grinding your teeth 

Lamber asks below: "So, if God is in the White House, why was Guckert in the press room?" - Bill Berkowitz tries to get some answers...
Christian right mum on Gannon Affair
Why have the 'traditional family values' folks erected a wall of silence around the Gannon scandal?

They were livid over SpongeBob Square Pants' participation in a video advocating tolerance, and fuming about Buster the Bunny's visit to a lesbian household. So where's the outrage from the Christian right over the Jeff Gannon Affair? Despite a chunk of time having passed since the Gannon Affair was first uncovered, Christian right organizations are still cloaked in silence.


Curious about this wall of silence, I phoned several Christian right groups on Tuesday, February 22, hoping to find someone who could comment on the Gannon Affair. This is what I found:

go see what Bill Berkowitz found.

Meanwhile: other more pressing OUTRAGES continue to mount. Shrieks Agape Press headline:
UW Officials Slammed for Allowing Transvestite Inanity, Published Profanity

By Jim Brown (American Family Radio News)
February 25, 2005

(AgapePress) - An institution of higher learning in Washington State is being criticized for allowing a drag queen competition on campus and permitting the student newspaper to run an article containing profanity.

According to University of Washington Daily reports, 600 people came to see the second annual "Gender Bender Drag Competition" on the university's Seattle Campus. According to the Daily, the event included graphic sexuality, sex jokes, and other kinds of dirty humor. Reportedly, 150 would-be spectators had to be turned away due to limited seating.

The UW Student Affairs Office declined to comment on the drag queen competition or on the Daily's use of profanity in its coverage of it. However, Bob Knight of the Culture and Family Institute had plenty to say about what he calls an "utterly indefensible" event.

Bob Knight
"Parents and taxpayers who pay good money to ensure that kids get a good education don't have this kind of stuff in mind," Knight says. "These groups are being allowed to corrupt kids -- that's really what we're talking about -- they're tempting kids into weird sex, weird depictions of sex, gender-bending. They have no business doing this on a publicly supported campus."

Hmmm. It's a good thing the White House is no longer public property or Bob might be pretty upset with some of the weird "depictions" that have been oozing, of late, out of that Washington campus.

Seize the moral high ground - concede nothing..... This Modern World


Goodnight, moon 

So, if God is in the White House, why was Guckert in the press room?

I mean, I've heard of Mary Magdalene, but this is ridiculous!

Sheep, vile rumors, old friends, and lessons learned 

In another bizarre piece of fluffery by Lizzie "Girl Reporter" Bumiller, we get the usual next-to-nothing that two minutes worth of Googling would surround with some context:

"I worked there as a 14-year-old kid," Mr. Bush said. "I left Texas for Scotland to work on a sheep farm. And I'm riding my bike, taking this one sheep, you know, from here to there, and a big tour bus stops. And they got off, and a woman with a Texas accent said, 'Look at the little Scottish boy.' "
(via NY Times)

Now, let me be the first to admit that we were wrong, wrong, wrong. We were wrong about the vile rumor about goats (back).

Sheep. Oh George...

There is some confirmation that the story isn't entirely made up here. Nice to think of the fourteen year old Bush "working" on a sheep farm owned by a millionaire financier friend of Bush pere, William Gammel, who was later one of the original investors in Bush's first failed venture, Arbusto.

And it sounds like Gammel learned a lot from his experience!

The loyal Gammell is rigorously discreet about his two famous friends [Tony Blair and Bush], but he has acknowledged: "I learned a lot about the oil business from George W Bush."

Like what, I wonder?

"I learned two golden rules, double what you are told are the technical risks, and halve what you are told about the upside," Gammell said.
(Energy Bulletin)

My guess is that Gammel learned that lesson the hard way—being taken for a few million in Bush's Arbusto fiasco.

And you know? It's too bad Bush didn't learn those same two rules in His war of choice in Whack, isn't it? If Bush had doubled the technical risks, we might have had a plan to win the peace. And if Bush had halved the upside... Well, damn. We never were quite sure what the upside was, were we? Because it kept changing all the time... Oh well...

Georgie! Leggo of that sheep! How would you feel?!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Hey, it worked for Schroeder, why not for Paul Martin? 

Running against Bush, that is:

A day after opting out of the U.S. ballistic missile defense shield, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin reiterated Friday that Washington must get permission from Ottawa before firing on any incoming missiles over Canada.

"This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.
(via AP)

You've gotta know that the world has taken Bush's measure when—sorry about this Tresy—the Canadians kick sand in His face. I mean, first the Estonians and the French give up one (count 'em) soldier each for Whack, and now this.

GEORGE: What say we whup them Canadians next, hon?

CONDI: [Thinking: With what Army?] Would you like the boots on this time, Master?

Of course, Martin was the quintessentially polite Canadian for not pointing out that Bush's multibillion shrinking-dollar Pentagon-contractor-on-the-tit boondoggle [cough] system just doesn't work. And it isn't like we'd try to bring down incoming warheads on Canadian territory, anyhow. Well, except maybe for the French-speaking part, and then we'd be doing them a favor anyhow, right?

Sean Hannity has a dating service! 

Oh, sorry. I forgot to warn you to put your coffee down.

Anyhow, I'm not making this up.

Readers, suppose you were writing an ad to find "Hannity style romance." Just suppose now. How would it read?

Bonus points (conservative gals): Work in "knee-high boots"! (back)

Bonus points (conservative guys)... Oh, what's the point... Why go on.... Damn, where'd I leave that bottle... Well, how about "candlelight and walks on the the beach"?

Speaking the F-Word, Loudly 

Wow. Following in Xan’s steps here of ripping off the best (see below), the best things I’ve seen yet on the “creeping fascism” meme. From Luciana Bohne:

February 22, 2005—Fifty years from now, historians (if any survive the next 50 years in any fit shape to take time out from foraging for food to scribble and to theorize) will puzzle over this question as Italians still do today over the exact beginning of fascism (roughly, 1920-1943).

Was it with the USA PATRIOT Act? The military tribunals? Nine-eleven—Reichstag fire that some think it was? Florida elections 1998-2000? Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib? Gonzales? Negroponte? PNAC? Panama invasion? Gulf War I? Reagan? NAFTA and the Washington consensus, in general? Chile coup?

Or was it with Hiroshima and Nagasaki—when the US showed the world that it would back its existing economic hegemony with its military death machine?

The whole thing’s at Attacks on academic freedom, or when exactly did Bushism begin in the USA?

And this from Mark Drolette:

…Have I been dropping the f-bomb too casually, verbiage that has been guaranteed to stop practically any conversation in America dead in its tracks for just about forever? Or have circumstances changed such in this country that it can now be spoken without shame (though regretfully), and that, instead of causing jaws to drop, heads to shake, and people to leave, the moment is upon us in which this once-spurned term may now be considered appropriate (an unfortunate necessity) for everyday conversation?

I assert the latter: it is time to acknowledge our democratic system of government has been replaced by fascism.

Find the whole things at Part I and United States government, 2005Part 2: If it walks like a goose . . . over at Online Journal.

Worth a trip. Now, off to find some whiskey. And consume it.

Raise your right arm, um, hand please 

We never learn, do we?

The University of Colorado is reviewing administrative records of all employees to see if they signed loyalty oaths after a controversy was sparked by the school's inability to find the loyalty oath of professor Ward Churchill.
(via Denver Post)

Of course, the Republicans who took oaths to the person of George Bush (back)), as opposed to the Constitution, or the country, say, have nothing to worry about. There's no conflict, and nothing to worry about, since under Fuhrerprinzip, the country Nation, The Consitution, and Dear Leader are all the same!

One Nation Asleep Under a Bu$h 

Beware of Rove Nations:

Via The Agonist
The Rise of Rove's Republic - Stirling Newberry | February 24

The Agonist - Most people in the outside world do not explicitly believe we are passing through a period of constitutional crisis. That an impeachment was run over a blow job didn't clue them in. That a president was installed by judicial fiat did not clue them in. That a war was launched which is, and was, essentially a giant looting expedition on the Treasury has not clued them in.

So what is going on? What is the thread that unifies Iraq and Social Security, the election crisis of 2000?

The process of American Constitutional change, and according to that process, the greatest dangers lie ahead, not behind us.

Continued...much more...go read the full article.

Thanks to kelley b at Singularity for the heads up on this post.
Also see, Singularity: Bad Moon on the Rise - The Rise of Rove's Republic.


Uncle Bucky and the Rocket-Fueled Breasts 

Juan Cole steered me to this one, which comes from Bob Harris. Please note the headline is his [Bob's] title for the piece, not mine...and we'll repeat it one more time because...well, just because:

Uncle Bucky and the Rocket-Fueled Breasts

Wednesday, 23 February 2005
No, that's not a children's book from hell. (Although now I kinda want to write it.)

Two quick things from today's LAT which I haven't seen in other blogs yet:

Item 1: Chimpy's uncle William H. T. "Bucky" Bush just made half a million bucks cashing in stock options from helping run a defense company that got no-bid contracts which look pretty hinky.

Item 2: Mother's milk -- pretty much anybody's, at least in the U.S. -- now also contains a key ingredient of rocket fuel. Which is surely what nature intended. Downside: thyroid impairment leading to cognitive dysfunction and learning disabilities, and thus another possible generation of Bush supporters. Upside: American babies can now incinerate their own diapers by farting. So that's a time-saver right there.

I'm sure a lot of mothers in Iraq right now are hoping, just hoping, someday to do well enough to pass rocket fuel contamination through their own breasts.

We can only dream.

Have a great day. Yeesh.

*And what is it with these people and their need to maintain both a long string of initials indicative of pedigree, displaying their breeding papers like a show dog, and widdle-kid nicknames, as if to announce, hey, we're not all that serious about the elitist rights of inherited dominion we affirm with our every waking breath? I mean, hell, everyone's related to somebody who did something. If any of these people believed their own crap about personal responsibility, they'd occasionally act like who they are was defined by their own actions, not the eugenic cotillion-closet genetic filesharing which allows them to escape any consequence.

Hell. Maybe I should start calling myself Robert Clemens Priestley Cleopatra "Skeeball" Harris and hope somebody hands me a no-bid contract. Worth a try.
Being in the middle of a periodic stab at giving up tobacco, I of course am unable to write anything myself, so figured it was only fair to give our readers the best stolen material available elsewhere. If anyone reading this is inspired to hand out any no-bid contracts, just steer it here to the Mighty Corrente Building and we'll be sure to pass [most of] it along to Bob.

The Empress's New Clothes 

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."

As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.
(via WaPo)
Even though every thing Condi has touched over the past four years has turned to, well, you know, the press isn't talking about that. Even though she's continuing to screw stuff up on a daily basis, we're not talking about that.

No, oh no. Instead of talking about anything of substance, the paragons of the Washington press corps are now writing silly-ass fluff pieces about Condi's clothes.

Holy shit. How vapid is that?

One-a Them Days 

I heard a guy from Mississippi on NPR this morning (yeah, I know, I torture myself, but it still beats commercial radio and I don’t have teevee). He said he voted for aWol because he was once in the military and he knows you don’t change commanders in mid-war. He then went on to say that he favored the Democrats on the social security issue and thought aWol was dead wrong to try to meddle with the system.

Isn’t this the kind of guy you just want to throttle? I mean, WTF? I couldn’t help but think of that fella I overheard who basically said, hell yes, you change horses in midstream if the nag has two broken legs and is drowning. I think of Truman firing MacArthur. And on and on.

The reasoning skills displayed here just astound me. Now you have a “commander” whose clusterfuck is rapidly going from bad to worse, AND handling of domestic issues you don’t like.

Reminds me of someone I met last week at the library in town. The head librarian is a friend of mine, a flaming liberal, and she introduced me to the new kiddie librarian by saying, “She’s nice enough, but I don’t think she’d like our bumper stickers.” (Referring to the Kerry-Edwards, Dump Bush, Regime Change Begins at Home stickers all over our trucks.) The kiddie librarian just laughed and said, “Oh, I’m a Democrat. I just voted for Bush because of some personal reasons I’d rather not talk about.”

My thought was, yeah, personal reasons like those demonic voices that keep yammering in your head. I mean, WTF?

And then I hear where a peace activist in Bangladesh said to a reporter, ''Bush and his second-term election was a surprise to people here. Most people didn't believe that U.S. citizens were going to reward Bush after what he has done.''

Some days I just want to crawl under the covers with a bottle of sipping whiskey and a good tearjerking book. Know what I mean?

Alpo Accounts: The shape of smears to come 

Once again Krugman is the master synthesizer:

[If disinformation] were all there is to it, Social Security should be safe, because this particular disinformation campaign isn't going at all well. In fact, there's a sense of wonderment among defenders of Social Security about the other side's lack of preparation. The Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation have spent decades campaigning for privatization. Yet they weren't ready to answer even the most obvious questions about how it would work - like how benefits could be maintained for older Americans without a dangerous increase in debt.

Privatizers are even having a hard time pretending that they want to strengthen Social Security, not dismantle it. At one of Senator Rick Santorum's recent town-hall meetings promoting privatization, college Republicans began chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security's got to go."

Silly boys. Letting the cat out of the bag!

But before the anti-privatization forces assume that winning the rational arguments is enough, they need to read Mr. Frank's [book, What's the matter with Kansas].

The message of Mr. Frank's book is that the right has been able to win elections, despite the fact that its economic policies hurt workers, by portraying itself as the defender of mainstream values against a malevolent cultural elite. The right "mobilizes voters with explosive social issues, summoning public outrage ... which it then marries to pro-business economic policies. Cultural anger is marshaled to achieve economic ends."

And this week we saw Mr. Frank's thesis acted out so crudely that it was as if someone had deliberately staged it. The right wants to dismantle Social Security, a successful program that is a pillar of stability for working Americans. AARP stands in the way. So without a moment's hesitation, the usual suspects declared that this organization of staid seniors is actually an anti-soldier, pro-gay-marriage leftist front.

It's tempting to dismiss this as an exceptional case in which right-wingers, unable to come up with a real cultural grievance to exploit, fabricated one out of thin air. But such fabrications are the rule, not the exception.

So it doesn't matter that Social Security is a pro-family program that was created by and for America's greatest generation - and that it is especially crucial in poor but conservative states like Alabama and Arkansas, where it's the only thing keeping a majority of seniors above the poverty line. Right-wingers will still find ways to claim that anyone who opposes privatization supports terrorists and hates family values.

Their first attack may have missed the mark, but it's the shape of smears to come
(via NY Times)

Hurray for my Republican Governor! 

Gov. Matt Blunt said Thursday he is delaying $100 million in monthly payments to Missouri's major universities to try to ease state cash flow troubles.

Democrats accused the Republican governor of breaking his campaign pledge not to withhold money from public education - a charge Blunt denied.


Missouri's colleges and universities have suffered repeated funding cuts as governors and legislators have struggled to balance the state budget in recent years.

Most recently, Democratic Gov. Bob Holden withheld $210 million from K-12 and higher education in July 2003, then gradually released the full amount by April 2004 as state revenues came in better than he had expected.

While campaigning for governor, Blunt often criticized Holden's budget withholdings. In his written campaign platform, Blunt that if he were elected, "money that has been approved for our public schools will NEVER be withheld."

Blunt, who took office last month, said Thursday that his campaign pledge applied only to K-12 education.

"I've never said we won't withhold money from higher education," said Blunt, adding that regardless, "this isn't a withholding. It's a deferred payment."
(via Jefferson City News-Tribune)
Oh, please Matt, give me a damned break.

They pilloried Democratic former governor Bob Holden for doing this -- and Blunt's withholding is much larger than Holden's withholdings from the state university system ever were.

And, I might add, Holden gave the universities all plenty of warning so that they could plan accordingly. Apparently, Blunt just dropped this bomb on Wednesday with little or no warning.

Let me repeat this for you: My STATE UNIVERSITY is about to have to BORROW several million dollars from a bank to keep meeting payroll for something Republican Governor Blunt said during the campaign he'd never do and criticized his Democratic predecessor incessantly for doing.


Being Caribou II 

We've moved Tresy's beautiful essay, to make sure everyone has a chance to read it.

In addition, here are some additional links. Orion magazine, a wonderful publication more people should be aware of, has a galaerie of photographs of the Arctic Refuge taken by "Photographer Subhankar Banerjee -- a thirty-something computer scientist from India turned artist and conservationist -- has honed his artistic proficiency from the seat of a kayak, a Cessna, and even an iceberg, documenting the wonders of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge over a two-year period." As the editors comment, these stunning photographs "vividly debunk Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton's characterization of ANWR as "flat, white nothingness." His exhibition at the Smithsonian was moved from the Rotunda Gallery to a hallway leading to a loading dock, without explanation." Getting angry? Good.

The magazine features top of the line writers like Peter
Matthiessen, Wendell Berry, Terry Temptest Williams, Jane Godall, Rick Bass, Barry Lopez; it offers audio readings, and a video of Mattheissen you should look at - all kinds of good stuff about a different way to look at our post 9/11 world. Here's its archive page - explore at your leisure. Don't miss this related article about Dick Cheney's energy policy, "Looking For Oil In All The Wrong Places," which has a particularly interesting graphic.

The League of Conservation Voters is also on the case:
Stop the Sneak Attack on the Arctic Refuge
Keep Arctic drilling OUT of federal budget legislation

Right now President Bush and his pro-drilling allies in Congress are plotting a sneak attack on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In the next two weeks, oil-friendly members of the House and Senate will try a sneaky backdoor trick to pass their unpopular proposal to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic Refuge by inserting it into the must-pass federal budget bill.

It's up to us to put a stop to this sneak attack by raising a ruckus.
So we have our marching orders - make a ruckus. LCV can make it easier for you, click here to find out how. There's nothing like phone calls direct to members of congress. It doesn't have to be today. Early next week would be good, too. Call ten of your friends and ask them to do the same thing, and ask them to notify ten of their friends, and check for duplicate calls. Call your own representative and senators first. Then call key Democrats, especially in the leadership. Insist on talking to a staff person. Sometimes after they start getting calls on a specific subject, the receptionist starts keeping track of the totals, in which case, stating a brief message to her (still always her, yes?) is okay.

Guys, this is important. You don't get wilderness like this back once it falls under the development bulldozer. Now then, read Tresy below, or read it again; it'll inspire you.

Being Caribou 

Last night we took a break from house hunting in our soon-to-be-adoptive country to watch the documentary, "Being Caribou," with several hundred other residents of Nelson, BC. The film chronicles a Canadian couple's 6-month trek through the northwest Yukon and into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, following the annual migration of 125,000 caribou to their calving grounds on a narrow strip of shoreline above the Arctic Circle. The film is impressive on several levels, not least of which is the inspirational idealism of the couple, Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer, who set out on this quest with a single camera, a 6-week course in documentary filmmaking, and a singleminded determination to show the world what is at stake if the Refuge is opened up to oil drilling.

Speaking for myself at least, it's one thing to read about the magnificence of this place, which the oil industry wants to defile, but entirely another to see it, listen to it, and vicariously feel it. This is not a romantic portrait of Nature as maternal Gaia; the weather is often brutal, the ordeal the caribou endure to complete their cycle of life grim. When not being picked off by grizzly bears, the caribou face having their calves literally plucked from them by golden eagles, losing them by accident (a calf separated from its mother is doomed; at one point one such lost calf approaches Heuer in the tragic hope that he might be his), or in a final indignity, literally being bitten to death by mosquitoes and botflies.

Yet the drama of this millennia-old story and the backdrop against which it takes place still takes one's breath away. That we would yet again be poised to pawn yet another piece of our patrimony for 6-months' worth of driving to Wal-Mart is profoundly depressing; watching "Being Caribou" evokes the photos of Native Americans by the Asahel Curtis, in that both are really elegies for a life on the verge of vanishing forever.

There is still room for action. The Canadian government has already passed legislation protecting the caribou migration, but without protection of their calving grounds in Alaska, the caribou are dangerously at risk. Bush is apparently backing us into drilling in the ANWR by putting a revenue line item in this year's budget that will, if passed, create leverage for formalizing drilling there. Activists are trying to build grassroots opposition to this move through community meetings and organized letter writing culminating March 12, when a vote is expected. You can read more here. Copies of "Being Caribou" are also available here.

Early on the film shows a clip of Bush hypocritically encouraging "folks" to go to the Refuge and "see it for themselves", counting on citizens to open up another beer and watch "Friends" instead. Two idealistic activists, however, called his bluff. Although few of us have the determination or the means to do what Allison and Karsten did, we can still call his bluff too.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

I understand the TV weather people are all excited—wearing their sweaters and all.

Whack: Estonia sends 1 (one) soldier 

The numbers tell the story on Bush's charm offensive:

In a show of unity after bitter disputes, all 26 countries in NATO pledged money, equipment or personnel to train Iraqi security forces, though many of the pledges were modest.

Estonia said it would send one staff officer to Iraq, and $65,000. France offered one officer to help mission coordination at NATO headquarters, and said it would train 1,500 Iraqi military police in Qatar outside NATO's mission.
(via AP)

Yep, Bush broke it and bought it, alright.

Annals of Up is Downism 

"Sovereignty" now means doing that the United States wants:
Canada's apparent decison to stay out of a North American missile-defence system has dumbfounded Americans as an unnecessary giveaway of sovereignty, Washington's envoy to Ottawa said Wednesday.

"We don't get it," Paul Celluci said in Toronto.

"If there's a missile heading toward Canada, you are going to leave it up to the United States to determine what to do about that missile. We don't think that is in Canada's sovereign interest." (via the Nelson Daily News)
I'm having trouble deciding who Celluci reminds me of. Tony Soprano? ("Ya know, I tink it would be a very very bad ting if some bad elements might try to burn down your store and we wuz, you know, on the outs wid one another. Cuz I like ya, I really do, but I have my own intrests t' tink about, ya know? And well, ya know, I might have more pressing things on my mind at the time and not be able to help you out, if you get my drift."

Or maybe Crazy Celluci the Used Car Salesman ("Friend, you would be insane NOT to buy the armorplated undercarriage with rust inhibitor. Sure, it costs a few bucks more, but think about the kids! What if you ran over an Improvised Explosive Device one day and little Ian was in the backseat. Thse things happen, believe me. You'd never forgive yourself! Friend, it would be irresponsible not to spend the extra $14.2B. Ask yourself: what price can you put on peace of mind?"

Any other scumbags come to mind?

A three column blog 

OK, two-column bigots advocates—

Can you live with a layout like this one? Does it have the right zooming behavior?

Direct Action Gets Satisfaction 

Dante Zappala, writing at PixelPress about her brother, Sherwood Baker, a Philadelphia native, killed in iWaq:

…For most of America today, the "War in Iraq" has been dumbed down to nothing more than a political football. We've got two teams trying to pick up a fumble and run with it. We've wrangled now for years over the existence of WMD. But in our obsession with that process, we neglect soldiers like Sherwood – and Iraqi civilians -- whose lives were sacrificed to find those weapons. As it turns out, to not find those weapons.

Sherwood didn't die in vain. But the war in Iraq is still being fought in vain. We have acquiesced to an agenda that has killed our brothers and sisters, raided our Treasury and fractured our moral standing in the world. The legacy of Sherwood's service will only be honored when we all demand truth in our politicians, demand that they too serve with honor and integrity.
Demanding that, I believe, is the best way that we can honor a dead soldier.

So let’s demand. United for Peace and Justice (United For Peace) is organizing…

Not so fast, say anti-war activists like Plummer, who is helping to organise a mass protest rally near the base in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Mar. 19 to coincide with the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion. ''The message is not 'bring them home after they fix stuff', it's 'bring them home now','' said Plummer, an active member of the national peace group Military Families Speak Out. ''

Organising in Fayetteville requires sensitivity that you wouldn't need to have in a non-military town,'' he added. ''You have to respect people who oppose the war but are afraid to go public because they have a spouse in the military and could lose their benefits.'' Even so, he says that interest in his group -- which represents 2,000 military families -- and in the March anti-war events has been ''overwhelming''. The Fayetteville rally is being conceived and planned by veterans and relatives of soldiers, with delegations coming from as far away as the Pacific island state of Hawaii…

…The Fayetteville rally is just one of many taking place around the United States next month, with New York City hosting a Central Park gathering expected to attract up to a quarter million people. The international peace movement has become increasingly sophisticated in coordinating events across the globe: in February 2003, more than ten million people marched simultaneously in 60 countries against the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

This year, anti-war actions are also planned in Britain, Greece, Italy, France, Iceland, Germany, Denmark and other European cities, as well as in Brazil, Korea, Japan, South Africa, Bangladesh and Australia.

In Sydney, the main focus will be on opposing the presence of foreign troops, but also specifically to condemn the Australian government's decision this week to send another 450 soldiers to Iraq, activists say. Mar. 20 falls on Palm Sunday this year, the traditional day on which Australians have held peace rallies. Anti-war actions will take place across the country… via Inter Press Service

And, hell, maybe organize something locally to coincide. We can usually get 30 or 40 people even here in the sticks.

Bu$h follies on ice 

Via My Net Roots:
Apparently "Jeff Gannon" Doesn't Translate into German - This is how Bush spreads the beacon light of freedom:

During his trip to Germany on Wednesday, the main highlight of George W. Bush's trip was meant to be a "town hall"-style meeting with average Germans. But with the German government unwilling to permit a scripted event with questions approved in advance, the White House has quietly put the event on ice. Was Bush afraid the event might focus on prickly questions about Iraq and Iran rather than the rosy future he's been touting in Europe this week?

Ooops! Tinfoil Hat Boy reminds me in comments that Lambert has already posted on this item above back HERE, yesterday.

In that case I'm working on something called NTodd Watch.
He's up to something over here: NTodd now with Red and Blue magazine. Mustang Bobby and the LA Times have been tracking his movements.

So, best stay alert especially if you live in Buels Gore, Vermont.

NTodd has been sighted in the vicinity of Buels Gore and could be right outside your window or sneaking around behind your barn right now this very minute. He may be traveling with a female accomplice named Otterson. If that is in fact her real name.


If I May Have Your Attention For A Moment 

I would like to point to our current poll, directly to your right. Our polls are the work of The Farmer, which will come as no surprise to any of our regular readers. I happen to think that this particular one is perhaps his finest and funniest thus far.

However, I am saddened to note that the correct answer is only in second place. Yes, from my viewpoint there is a single correct answer, though I realize that arguments can be made on behalf of any of the proffered choices.

I can only assume the failure of so many to select that correct answer, which happens to be # 9, "The Rove Strumpet Swan" is due to a general lack of knowledge as to the true nature of swans. Most of you probably view them as benign creatures of great beauty, those wondrous entities into which ugly ducklings grow. Surely, they are beautiful. But just as surely their preening display of their own beauty is less than attractive, and an excellent avian equivalent of Jeff/Jim Gannon/Guckert's advertisements for his own display of nudity.

Most of you probably view your average swan as having a serene temperament. I don't blame you for that. I suspect that most of you have never had a close encounter with a swan. I have.

At the age of four, at a farm of a friend of the family where we sometimes spent the weekend, I became entranced by the beauty of the swans our friends kept in a pond, and waded in to pet one of them. Within a nanosecond, I was pinned under the gigantic wing of one of the swans, who commenced slapping me silly with the other wing, punctuated by occasional jabs of its beak and kicks of its webed feet. I was rescued before I sustained any permanent damage, but it took two grown men to free me, and one of them sustained two broken bones in the effort.

No one blamed the swan, nor do I. But I am here to tell you that swans are preternaturally strong beyond ordinary imagination, clannish, quick to anger, domineering, and that they posses a decided mean streak. I think it was grannyinsanity in comments who pointed to certain features of Gannon/Guckhert's physique that might indicate a predilection for dominance and the meting out of punishment. Are not the correlations between Rove Strumpet Swans and Jeff JD Gannon Guckert all too obvious? I will leave the discussion at that, except to observe that any of you who think that Leda had anything remotely like fun should think again, or re-read Yeats on the subject:

Vote your conscience, of course, but on no account ever try and pet a swan.

Out Gannon's malAdminstration client(s), win $10,000 


A local socialite, who wishes to remain anonymous, has teamed up with this site to offer a $10,000 reward to anyone that can provide hard proof (photos, phone pictures, locks of hair, DNA on a suit) that Jeff Gannon had ANY sexual -- or romantic -- relationship with any top-ranking officials here in Washington.

Talon News Chop Shop Blues 

This IS important! Over at American Politics Journal Steve Young says what needs to be said. And has a few questions that need to be asked:
Leave Jeff Gannon Alone!, He Gives Ne'erdowells Hope


"There are rumblings that Hillary Clinton may run for President in 2008. Will your administration bring out the fact that she slept with the entire membership of every Harvard fraternity AND sorority? And is there room in the budget to resurrect the Whitewater scandal to find out why she killed Vince Foster? I mean, if she did. Could you also comment on the size of her calves?"

"Liberals believe that murdering innocent unborn children is cool. Does that have anything to do with the good your Social Security reform will do?"

"Democrats hate religion and urinate on God. Do you have any idea why?"

"In the early 1940's, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and turncoat Jim Jeffries murdered six million Jews and untold numbers of homosexuals. How do [you] work with these obviously insane assassins to pass laws that will only help the American people? And could you also address why misguided Jews, Negroes and Gays blindly support the Democratic party."

Hmmm. I think some "liberals" have some explaining to do! More excellent probing questions that need to be asked... see APJ link above.

Meanwhile; The GOPUSA/Talon News "new journalism" chop shop was apparently taking liberties with the vehicles parked in the Associated Press lot. Until someone discovers that the door panels on Leslie Wetzel's car look an awful lot like the door panels that used to be on David Kravetz's car and...well, just go see for yourself.

Via Why Are We Back
Another Talon News Plagiarist
Calling David Kravetz of the Associated Press. Have you ever heard of a Leslie Wetzel from Texas? On June 2, 2004 Leslie Wetzel was seen in the vicinity of GOPUSA with what appears to be your words. Are you or the Associated Press going to do something about that? We're all waiting to see.

Finally, in summation, I'd like to take a moment to second Steve Young's praise for Jeff Gannon and to personally (well, maybe not personally...but you know what i mean) thank the White House, GOPUSA, Talon News, Jeff Jim Gannon Guckert himself, (the greatest freelancer - cowboy - bronco buster - hubcap thief - pioneer action hero manwhore "new" journalist working America today) for his contributions to mapping a new way West for all of us little nitwit nobodies out here who can't even get a word in edgewise at a deli counter. Jeff Gannon is our new Lewis and Clark. Who - not many people know this - were the same guy. Aka: Meriwether. And they (or him) or whatever, were gay too. And secretly dating Abraham Lincoln for a short while. Until that big fight about that business in New Salem involving the stud bull. And then there were other problems... nevermind.


Wingnutocracy Takes Note of Gannon/Guckert 

Instapundit proposes, with much glee, a link to Tom Maguire, who, with equal glee, disposes, with a post he calls Gannon/Guckhert for Dummies, of the entire issue named therein, or so he thinks.

Appropriately on the case, the ever invaluable World 'o Crap in a long post every word of which is a must-read.

I suppose one should read the original, but to be frank, I didn't. I had my fill of said Maguire while working on an analysis of the rhetorical tropes used by the right in lieu of sustained, reasoned argument, in support of the attack on John Kerry by those Swiftboat Vets who hate John Kerry. You can make up your own mind what to do in this regard; s.z. provides all necessary links, but you'll get a fair idea of what Maguire had to say from her text as well. I offer no quotes because I'm serious about that "must-read" rating.

Please, read the comments thread, too; in this case it becomes an extension of the original post. Mr. Maguire shows up, less to argue, more to exhibit attitude and the rhetorical gymnastics that the right is actually proud of, amazingly. Actually, it's not that amazing, since, for the most part, their analysis is always in attack mode, and despite their frequent allusions to the paranoid style of the left, ( more or less a given that does not require proof), their own world view is essentially that of a besieged minority, everywhere surrounded by a liberal elite, which is, by definition, incapable of any semblance of truth.

"s.z." returns in the thread to answer with both style and truth, as do a notable contingent of intelligent and stylish readers. Here, I will give a few examples, the better to entice you;
Just so we're all clear on this: Outing a fake White House reporter as a gay prostitute: Gross Miscarriage of Justice. Outing a covert CIA operative for petty political revenge: Bitch Had it Coming.
Sour Kraut

Okay, Tom, in case you're still hanging around, you interrupted my tangential wisecrack about your "linky richness" and the distinction between larding a tenderloin and cutting a slit in a pork chop and inflating it with Crisco. Four links to Froomkin, three to yourself, two to show that yet another hastily-called presidential press conference was hastily called, even one to demonstrate that JimJoeJeff was operating on a day pass? I mean, I happen to love footnotes, but I need at least five hours sleep a night.

Really, now, in all honesty: if this were a Democratic administration would you mutatis mutandis care a rat's ass about the Brady room? About what was on the front page of the Times? Would it still be a matter of invading someone's private sexuality or a question of gay prostitutes with mysterious access to a post-9/11 White House?
Doghouse Riley

Where are your manners, young lady? Tom is offering to have an online pissing match with you about this and pump up his traffic numbers and you can't even set a simple trackback ping for him. Tsk, SZ. Tsk.
That "pissing match" reference by Julia, yes she of the Sisyphean shrug, will make more sense when you've read the thread.

Only two trolls show up to post a single time each, not counting Maguire himself, both displaying the same attitude as he does - that mix of sarcasm, derision, tendentious misdirection, and a smugness, as to their own rightness, stylishness, and humor, so thorough one begins to suspect that deep down they don't believe it either. Here's a sample from Jeff G. of Protein Wisdom.
As I say, a certified laff riot.

On his own blog, Mr. Goldstein pays passing attention to this little dustup of z.s. taking on Maguire, under the title:
Clever, no? Actually no, because this exercise in satiric exaggeration is so bereft of any connection to what "critics" say, or what any humans left or right are saying, that it can only work as a rhetorical shout-out to other members of the already converted congregation. Even so, you should read both the post and the comments.

Why, you ask? Because the habits of mind and argument employed with such regularity by the inhabitants of Wingnuttia are seeping into the mainstream, through talk radio, Fox News, and right wing bloggers, who are as uncritically appraised by the SCLM as is the Bush administration itself. We need to understand how their rhetoric is put together, what are its inner workings and favorite tropes, if we are to successfully counter it.

Yes, we must not become obsessed with it; in part, the constant attacks, the tendentious assertion of facts that aren't facts, is part of an attempt to get us to do just that. To wit:

Sometimes I let my four-year-old play in the kitchen unsupervised for a while. He makes a mess but it’s child-proofed in there and I can go about the business of running a household while he’s making a lot of noise with the pots and pans.

Same with the Dems. Let them make sound and fury. We know where they are and we can go about some serious business. Let them distract the moonbats. Better that they should be mindlessly occupied until such a time as they get their first paycheck and become Libertarians.

We, on the other hand, should be focusing on the top ten spiked stories of 2004. That’s where the real trouble lies.

But, Ana, I looked at the top ten spiked stories, and none of them seems to involve GAY PROSTITUTE HOMOSEXUAL MAN-COCK. Nor do any of those stories deal with the threat that QUEER, QUEER, GAY, MAN-ON-MAN PROSTITUTE MAN-COCK having access to a press conference poses to the safety of the Republic. Besides, none of them seems to even touch on THE HYPOCRICY.

Exactly. I’m not suggesting that we stop laughing like crazed hyenas on nitrous oxide about it all. That would be wrong.

On the other hand, simply ignoring this unfortunate reality is neither an option nor a strategy.

Another Look Back (Sigh) 

John Nichols over at The Nation takes me back in his piece on HST’s legacy:

Thompson ran on what he and his backers dubbed the "Freak Power" ticket, declaring in an advertisement in the Aspen Times that, "(In) 1970 Amerika a lot of people are beginning to understand that to be a freak is an honorable way to go. This is the real point: that we are not really freaks at all—not in the literal sense—but the twisted realities of the world we are trying to live in have somehow combined to make us feel like freaks. We argue, we protest, we petition—but nothing changes. So now, with the rest of the nation erupting in a firestorm of bombings and political killings, a handful of "freaks" are running a final, perhaps atavistic experiment with the idea of forcing change by voting..."

…He wanted to combine "Woodstock vibrations, New Left activism, and basic Jeffersonian Democracy with strong echoes of the Boston Tea Party ethic" into what the writer-candidate referred to as "a blueprint for stomping the (conservative Vice President Spiro) Agnew mentality by its own rules—with the vote, instead of the bomb; by seizing the power machinery and using it, instead of merely destroying it."

Yeah, nothing changes. And now, thirty-five years later, how far have we come? The bad people have taken over. Yeeesh. Yet, the struggle goes on…Freak Power! We are the machinery, and the monkey wrench.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Gleaning the Essense of GuckertGate 

I still loves me them local columnists. This Charlie Madigan fella, via the Chicago Tribune, does a lovely job of packaging just about every important point of this story into one little column. I'd love to run the whole thing but in the interest of that nasty reality known as copyright law will whittle a bit around the edges:
CHICAGO -- What did the White House know and when did it know it on the question of the kinky bald guy with the stinky Web sites who got to pose as a "daily pass" reporter in the White House press corps?

He got to help the White House wiggle out of unpleasant moments by asking questions worthy of a doofus, which drew the attention of the blogosphere, which shifted into "high proctology" mode in a recent hot pursuit of the caper.

Bingo, another media incident explodes.

Well, good for the bloggers.

But there's one problem left, and that is the big question: Did the White House knowingly plant this lap doof in the press corps or, as indicated in many White House comments, was it just something that happened over time despite lots of scrutiny that led them to conclude he was legit, sort of? [snip]

But I don't care about any of that.

It's a free country and if you want to be a doof and play journalist, more power to you. There are lots of us doing that all over the world and there always have been.

The question is what the White House knew and when?

Based on my own experience with the Bush people, I have some discomfort about what I have heard so far, lots of little comments about things being checked out and how confusing it is to keep the media straight (whoops! my Freudian slip) in these hectic days of websites and blogging.

Why the doubts?

Because I have dealt with these people.

They are the most diligent people on earth when it comes to finding out where genuine reporters are and what they are doing.

Here is my story about that.

During the campaign last year, I made an attempt to get a ticket as a normal person, not as a reporter writing the Gleaner, to a Bush rally in Holland, Mich. I made exactly one call to an old guy at the local Republican committee to cop a ticket.

Before you knew it, local Republicans, regional Republicans and National Republicans were all over me. No! You can't go as a normal person. You must go as a reporter and sit where the reporters sit.

[Snip of very humorous account of the same story we've heard from dozens of other reporters being "handled" at BushCo events. Go read if interested, but here's the grand finale:]

Think about it this way. The Bush people were so efficient and focused they could reach all the way out to Holland, Mich. and try to put a choke collar on an innocent Rambling Gleaner.

Given that, can there be any doubt about what they knew about the ringer sitting in the middle of the press room for the briefings just about every day?

I don't think so.

Time to come clean.

Did you put him there?
Heh. Yeah. What that Madigan guy said.

Remember, GuckertGate is old news to us, but this is the first that a lotta people in Chicago and environs ever heard of it. And the whole BushCo campaign style as well.

Gleaning the Essense of GuckertGate 

I still loves me them local columnists. This Charlie Madigan fella, via the Chicago Tribune, does a lovely job of packaging just about every important point of this story into one little column. I'd love to run the whole thing but in the interest of that nasty reality known as copyright law will whittle a bit around the edges:
CHICAGO -- What did the White House know and when did it know it on the question of the kinky bald guy with the stinky Web sites who got to pose as a "daily pass" reporter in the White House press corps?

He got to help the White House wiggle out of unpleasant moments by asking questions worthy of a doofus, which drew the attention of the blogosphere, which shifted into "high proctology" mode in a recent hot pursuit of the caper.

Bingo, another media incident explodes.

Well, good for the bloggers.

But there's one problem left, and that is the big question: Did the White House knowingly plant this lap doof in the press corps or, as indicated in many White House comments, was it just something that happened over time despite lots of scrutiny that led them to conclude he was legit, sort of? [snip]

But I don't care about any of that.

It's a free country and if you want to be a doof and play journalist, more power to you. There are lots of us doing that all over the world and there always have been.

The question is what the White House knew and when?

Based on my own experience with the Bush people, I have some discomfort about what I have heard so far, lots of little comments about things being checked out and how confusing it is to keep the media straight (whoops! my Freudian slip) in these hectic days of websites and blogging.

Why the doubts?

Because I have dealt with these people.

They are the most diligent people on earth when it comes to finding out where genuine reporters are and what they are doing.

Here is my story about that.

During the campaign last year, I made an attempt to get a ticket as a normal person, not as a reporter writing the Gleaner, to a Bush rally in Holland, Mich. I made exactly one call to an old guy at the local Republican committee to cop a ticket.

Before you knew it, local Republicans, regional Republicans and National Republicans were all over me. No! You can't go as a normal person. You must go as a reporter and sit where the reporters sit.

You may not ramble around.

Well, what fun is that?

I made a half-hearted attempt to follow the rules, got my credentials and went to the event outside of Holland. Once I cleared security, I dashed off to freedom to ask a guy in a funny hat what he was up to.

It took less than two minutes for a woman in a nice blue suit to rush up to me with some "security" in tow and announce I couldn't do that, that I had to sit in the press section and stay there.

Since the "press" wasn't even going to arrive for another two hours, I thought that would be kind of limiting, so I respectfully said, "No @#$%#$ way in hell."

They held a meeting and affixed a tour guide to my side, a nice young woman who turned out to be a good interview because of the details of her life and why they made her think like a Republican.

Soon, she was withdrawn, probably for being too communicative, and was replaced by a fat guy who spent the entire event following me around and asking me if I was "getting what I needed."

That, I thought, was a very personal question.

Think about it this way. The Bush people were so efficient and focused they could reach all the way out to Holland, Mich. and try to put a choke collar on an innocent Rambling Gleaner.

Given that, can there be any doubt about what they knew about the ringer sitting in the middle of the press room for the briefings just about every day?

I don't think so.

Time to come clean.

Did you put him there?
Heh. Yeah. What that Madigan guy said.

Remember, GuckertGate is old news to us, but this is the first that a lotta people in Chicago and environs ever heard of it. And the whole BushCo campaign style as well.

Fire Next Time, and Next Time, and Next Time 

Scott Ritter writes that

The Bush administration has come face to face with the reality of the failure of its policies. Rather than curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the administration's crusade against global tyranny has served as an accelerant in placing the most dangerous weapons known to man in the hands of xenophobic regimes that have been backed into a corner…
"Freedom is on the march," Mr. Bush has said. Unfortunately for the United States, North Korea and Iran don't see it that way. And if America keeps marching, it could very well be in the direction of a nuclear apocalypse.

What a happy thought. Problem is, the administration has NOT “come face to face with the reality of the failure of its policies.” They deny that there is any reality other than what they want to see. And this is exactly what makes the doomsday clock tick. In fact, the timetable of events around 9/11 makes it clear that some of these loonies think a nuclear war is winnable, that government could continue, business could continue, in the event of nuclear war.

One loonie, Cresson H. Kearny, even has the temerity to say that

Those who hold exaggerated beliefs about the dangers from nuclear weapons must first be convinced that nuclear war would not inevitably be the end of them and everything worthwhile. Only after they have begun to question the truth of these myths do they become interested, under normal peacetime conditions, in acquiring nuclear war survival skills...

This sort of thinking has a long tradition in GOPiana. For example, Richard Pipes—a Reagan advisor—said in 1982 that, "The probability of nuclear war is 40 percent...and our strategy is winnable nuclear war." Maybe the new thinking is that the Rapture will take care of everything. One thing you can bet is that these Nixon and Reagan retreads have not changed their ideology.

Anyone who thinks “the end of the cold war” means the end of the threat of nuclear war is as delusional as the ones who think such a war is winnable, or that there are such things as “tactical nukes.” I used to think—back in the days of the test ban treaty and then the nuclear freeze movement—that no-nukes was one position everybody could agree on. But that isn’t indicated by the current silence.

The United States in 2002 had around 10,600 warheads. Nobody knows how many others there are stashed around the globe.

Where’s the outrage? I should warn everyone now that as August 6th approaches this topic will become more and more shrill, at least from my pen...

Social Security: Paying it forward 

The most concise moral justification for Social Security I've ever seen comes from a letter in this morning's amNewYork (February 23, 2004, p. 10):

It is not accurate to refer to Social Security as a "massive entitlement" program as it was stated in the Associated Press article on Greenspan's remarks about this program. Framing the issue in this way is dishonest and manipulative.

Social Security is rather an insurance program—the gem of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal Programs. It is based on paying it forward [like the movie]. People who are presently working are paying the benefits of those who have retired.

When they retire, their benefits will be paid by those who are working. It is not an entitlement when we have paid into the system.

Of course, "paying it forward" is against everything the Republicans stand for (looting, lying, lawnbreaking). And that is why the Repubublicans want to phase out Social Security. "Social Security must go," as the College Republicans chanted yesterday, letting the cat out of the bag.

Bubble Boy: What's He afraid of? 

Via The Amazin' Froomkin:

Bush was originally scheduled to hold a town-hall meeting with regular German citizens today in Mainz. But when the German government couldn't guarantee friendly questions, that became a small, carefully-screened roundtable discussion with young Germans who have visited the U.S. on exchange programs.

And only part of it was even made public.
(via WaPo)

What's Bush afraid of? German radio waves are metric, so his earpiece might get jammed?

Question: Why are any of these staged events being treated as news?

Bush Family Values: "Uncle Bucky" makes a packet on that armor we still don't have enough of 

From actual reporting in the LA Times:

The Iraq war helped bring record earnings to St. Louis-based defense contractor Engineered Support Systems Inc., and new financial data show that the firm's war-related profits have trickled down to a familiar family name — Bush.

William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, uncle of the president and youngest brother of former President George H.W. Bush, cashed in ESSI stock options last month with a net value of nearly half a million dollars.

"Uncle Bucky," as he is known to the president, is on the board of the company, which supplies armor and other materials to U.S. troops. The company's stock prices have soared to record heights since before the invasion, benefiting in part from contracts to rapidly refit fleets of military vehicles with extra armor.

The Harkonnens Bush Crime Family really gets you coming and going, eh?

First, lots of our troops die or lose limbs because Bush didn't plan for enough of the vehicles armored for our war of choice in Iraq. Heck, why would we need armor? Them Iraqis are gonna be throwin' roses!

Then, "Uncle Bucky" makes $500,000 (I know, it's not much to him) on a rush job selling the Pentagon the armor Bush didn't plan for—and that we still don't have enough of!

'S beautiful! [Wipes tear from eye]

You know, lots of parents spent their own money to buy body armor for their own children. And lots of Chambers of Commerce raised money to buy armor for vehicles. I'm still waiting for Bush to issue the executive order thanking them for their efforts and reimbursing them.

And the Beltway Dems might exercise their new spines by introducing legislation to remedy Bush's, um, oversight, tomorrow.

Alpo Accounts: No retreat, baby, no surrendur 

What Matt said:

Democrats are winning this fight, and should accept nothing less than surrender. Once the GOP has given up on phasing out the plan, we can either start a serious conversation about finding a balanced approach to Social Security reform, or else move on to addressing more pressing fiscal issues. Until then, trying to compromise with a party that knows no procedural or ethical restraints on its conduct and that's led by a president who's apparently hell-bent on destroying Social Security is a losing deal.
(via Tapped)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I don't know where this Republicans-as-Dad thing comes from, I really don't.

Seems to me like Bush is really the kind of Bad Dad who misses dinner, then reels into the house after having had one too many with his running buddies, then the kids have to wait 'til he passes out on the couch with FOX on really loud before they can tiptoe upstairs.

'Cause if he wakes up, either he'll go all smarmy on you, or start screaming, or demonstrate uber-Dadness by grounding you for stuff that you know he did too, like pot. Even though he lies about it.

Plus, his running buddies are really wierd. There's that one guy in fatigues with the bald head who's always asking if you want to learn how to wrestle...

Renovating The Mighty Corrente Building [update] 

The obvious solution to blogger's massive suckitude would be to move to a new platform that has features like enabling reliable posting, and who knows what else?

Herewith, some responses to the last comments (for the background, see the below and the associated comments).

Column count Alert reader Tom DC/VA "tolerates" the three-column layout at Atrios, and recommends First Draft and comments:

Let me expand a bit. I'm a wee bit nearsighted (step -5.0 if you're wondering), so the more space for content, the better it is for me. Zoom the text to 150% or 200% in Netscape >7.1 to see how I see things.

I just looked at First Draft; it looks to me like they have a smaller default fontsize than Atrios or Corrente do, so at 150% it looks good, and at %100 much more of the entire layout is visible. First Draft has a lot of functionality in the non-content area of their screen, which is what we will need. If I can use First Drafts basic layout, and get the functionality required, two columns is fine.

Simplicity Alert reader Tinfoil Hat Boy writes "Keep it as simple as possible." However, as Einstein said: "As simple as possible, and no simpler. Right now, Corrente is shrinking relative to the expanding blogosphere. So, to keep the influence we—and you—want us to have, Corrente has to change. We have to remodel The Mighty Corrente bulding. Alert reader Beth wants to K.I.S.S by eliminating the news feed ([8]) and the latest links to Corrente ([9]), while noting the omission of the blogroll. As far as the news feed ([8]), perhaps it could go at the bottom. It would help me as a blogger, to. Also, I really like the idea of combining a "Christian" news feed and Buzzflash. As far as the blogroll: Ours is huge, compared (say) to First Draft's. I had thought that a combination of the reciprocal links ([9]) and a separate links page (maybe even with feeds from the linked-to blogs) wouyld be a better use of the real estate.

Note also that one of my design goals for the remodelling is to make it possible to build a bigger group. (Corrente has always promoted from within, and we need a bigger within). That's why teasers at [5] instead of complete posts.

So moving the group blog more in the direction of a community.

Not—I repeat not—a humongous thing like Kos. More like South Street in Philly&mdashllots of funky little bars and shops, each one with it's own character.

Herewith a wireframe of one design for the main page.

The basic concept is that The Mighty Corrente Building has one Great Hall, which is where readers enter. This diagram is of The Great Hall. There are also "wings," like the wings in a museum, that are connected to The Great Hall.

Here are the comments that go with the numbered callouts (e.g., "[1]") in the diagram:

[NOTE: Sorry for the accidental post. Family emergency. Now, the real post.]

The detail:

[1] The "Corrente" logo, motto, and masthead.

[2] Alert. Breaking news or imminent event. Conceptually like a CNN crawl, though doesn't have to crawl graphically. Links out to Corrente, or elsewhere, as long as the link is hot, current. Could be tied to location: Philly, the Rez, Tennessee, etc.

[3] Campaign box. "Campaign" as in the campaign to unionize WalMart; the campaign to get that woman who was fired for supporting Kerry her job back. Links out to information for activists about the campaign.

[4] Contributors box. Stacked teasers from each contributor. Links out to the contributor's posts, in that contributor's wing. Currently, Corrente has 7 (seven) contributors ("the blog of seven"), therefore seven wings. One object of this exercise is to create a scaleable platform where more contributors (i.e., promoted alert readers, like all of us) can post.

[5] Teaser. The top post(s) by each contributor. Links out to the post. Structure: Any metadata (subject: "Election Fraud 2004"), the post headline, a "snippet" (likely first para) from the post. Metadata links to all posts with that metadata (i.e., all "Election Fraud 2004" posts).

[6] The tip box. What it says. All tips are plowed back into content generation.

[7] Latest of ongoing series. For example, farmer's posts on Falangism and the malAdministration. Called out here, with link to the latest post in the series.

[8] Latest links. Who linked to Corrente.

[9] Various feeds. For example, Buzzflash headlines. Heck, "Christian" right headlines. Why not?

[10] Explains itself. Yes?

Once again, the model: I'm seeing The Mighty Corrente Building as having a central Great Hall, which is the diagram you see above. Readers enter through the Great Hall.

There are also many wings, as in the wings of a Museum. Each wing is curated/edited/written/managed by a contributor: The Leah Appett Wing of the Mighty Corrente Building; the Lambert Strether Wing, etc. And wouldn't it be great if the wings were endowed....

By having the wings managed by a person, I hope (1) that the content )and tone) of the wings will end up being differentiated by the topics (and rhetoric) that each wing's contributor favors. I also hope (2) to avoid the gaming that goes with rating posts, reputation systems, etc.

What connects the wings? Topical organization (like the map of a museum that tells you which exhibits are where). So, for example, "Bush torture policies" would bring up all the posts on that subject, from all the wings.

That is, topical organization will tell you where to find everything about (for example) "Bush AWOL," whether a farmertoon, a thoughtful post by Leah, an acidulous rant by Lambert, a historical note by Tom... (Yes, I know topics will have to be easy to enter and to use).

Anyhow, these are my first thoughts. I will post a second diagram of the wings in the near future.

Alert readers! Does this make sense to you? How would you improve the ideas? Can you give us links to similar community/group blogs, so we can see what they have done? What are the features you wish you had that blogger can't give?

NOTE: An alert reader (shystee, I thought, but a search of my mail yields no hits) lost a bet to Corrente, which he or she was to contribute to the server fund. Instead, it might be the first tip in the tip box....

Radio boy: Confirmation of the Bush bulge 

Let's forget about trying to figure out whether Bush brings his own glove when it's time to field softballs...

Today's print edition of the Wall Street Journal —which remains a newsgathering organization—has an interesting story (February 22, 2005, p. A1) about Frederick Burks. Frederick Burks is Bush's translator of choice:

When Bush travelled to Bali for a meeting with President Megawati in October 2003, the State Department had another interpreter lined up, but the White House insisted on Mr. Burks.

Deep, deep in the story comes this little nugget:

[Burks] posted allegations on his web site that Bush used a secret listening device in meetings he had attended with President Megawati and most likely had done the same in debate with Senator John Kerry. ... Shortly after that Web posting, he left the State Department's translation service. He says he quit when a new supervisor insisted that he sign a pledge not to divulge any information obtained while intepreting.

So Burks never signed a confidentiality agreement. I went to the Burks site, and here's what I found:

In the recent Bush/Kerry debate, President Bush made a very strange, revealing comment in the middle of one of his turns talking. He had been talking for 60 seconds straight when he slipped in the comment, "let me finish" between his own words. He had been given 90 seconds to respond, and no one was in any way trying to cut him off. What was he referring to? Who was he talking to with this comment? The answer is that it is very possible that Bush was responding to someone who was feeding information to him through a hidden earphone.

Listen to the mp3 of this comment at NYC indymedia, or watch the video on the C-SPAN website at:
rtsp:// (copy and paste this address to your web browser, then fast forward to 40 min 30 sec).

As a deep insider myself, I have independent confirmation of President Bush using an earpiece to assist him in communicating intelligently with others. I've worked as a contract Indonesian language interpreter with the US State Department for over 18 years. I first started interpreting at the presidential level in 1995 at a White House meeting for President Clinton and President Suharto of Indonesia with their top advisors. ...

On September 19, 2001, just eight days after 9/11, I was in the White House interpreting for an important 90-minute meeting between President Bush and President Megawati Soekarnoputri of Indonesia. This meeting made national news on all the TV networks, as at the time, the administration wanted to show they were supportive of our Muslim friends. Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world. Over 80% of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim.

This was my first time interpreting for Bush. The previous day, I had been given the 22 points Bush would be covering in this meeting in order to familiarize myself with the topics to be discussed. About half of these "talking points" had to do with terrorism, which was to be fully expected given what had just happened. The other points, however, involved many details of Indonesian politics which even I would have had a tough time addressing, let alone Bush, who I assumed had limited knowledge of Indonesia.

During those 90 minutes, President Bush not only covered all the points, he covered them quite well and without any notes! Not once during the entire meeting did he look at any notes or receive cues from anyone present in discussing the Indonesian political situation with depth and intelligence. I was astonished! "How could this be?" I asked myself. It was a huge surprise. I concluded either that Bush was much more intelligent than we had been led to believe, or that somehow someone was feeding answers to him through a hidden earpiece. At the time, I really didn't know which of these was true.

Having worked directly with President Bush twice since then, and having additionally talked with many of my fellow interpreters who have worked directly with him, I am now certain that he could not have had that much knowledge of Indonesia. He doesn't even read the daily newspaper to keep up with what's being reported in the press. I am convinced that he must have been using some sort of earpiece through which someone was telling him what to say.

Having interpreted for media guests touring large TV studios, I've seen how the news anchors all have hidden earphones, and how the news producers are feeding them all sorts of information even as they talk live on TV. "20 seconds to a commercial," "15 seconds of filler here," "wrap it up quick " etc... This is standard practice for live TV shows. The "let me finish" comment made by Bush in the debate was only confirmation of something I already knew.

I think, short of Bush's valet coming forth with testimony that he slipped the radio harness onto Bush right before the debate with Kerry, this is all the confirmation we're ever going to get, or need.

NOTE: The WSJ story leads with information about, well, the fact that Mr. Burks does have his quirks—like believing [cough] in US complicity in 9/11 (" 52 (fifty-two) of 105 (one hundred and five) pre-9/11 PDBs mentioned AQ" (back). He also believes in communing with other large-brained mammals like dolphins (fine), and UFOs (not so fine). Probably getting this information on the record was the important point for whichever winger operatives were involved in the story.

How to reconcile those oddities with the fact that (as we've seen) the White House asked for Burks specifically? And the incredible fact that Burks was never made to sign a confidentiality agreement until the very end of his 18 year career?

I'll speculate that we're seeing the "handwriting" of how the Harkonnens Bush Crime Family deals with its retainers. They can't really trust anyone near to them, of course. How could they? So they ensure (1) that they have some sort of hold over their retainers, and (2) can discredit them when needed. Remember Cheney's doctor—who turned out to be a drug addict? The doctor could always have been forced to give Cheney a clean bill of health, if need be. Same idea here. If Burks ever told what he knew, he could be discredited. It may well be that in L'Affaire Gannon, we're seeing the same handwriting—except that in that case it blew up on them.

Name That Square! (The Sequel) 

Highlights of Richard Perle at the “debate” with Dr. Dean last Thursday, just in case ya missed it:

Perle said the war in Iraq was justified based on the intelligence available at the time. "Sometimes the things we have to do are objectionable to others," he said.

Yeah, torture, razing cities, and killing innocent civilians is pretty goshdarned objectionable, all right. But, y’know, they “have to do” them, because, well, we just have to, dadgummit, ya lousy liberals, always harping about “facts” and “evidence.”

"I'd be a fool not to recognize that it did not happen on the schedule I had in mind," Perle said, adding that he did not deny that the administration had made mistakes in Iraq.

But, Perle added, "I will be surprised, yet again, if we do not see a square in Baghdad named after this president." He did not specify a time.

Perle also indicated his impending surprise if aWol did not also singlehandedly defeat the aliens he believes will invade earth sometime in 2008, thus leading to his coronation as President for Life of the entire world. Okay, I made that last bit up.

Maybe the square will be named “War Crimes Junction.” And maybe they’ll name a prison after Rumsfeld—say, The Rumsfeld Torture and Juvenile Retraining Center.

I see a real battle for naming rights, here. The McClellan Memorial Center for Ethics in Journalism. (This will be a part of the Ministry of Lies, which itself will be named for Condi.)

Please note also that, while he admits many in Bushco are fools (several did in fact, deny there was a schedule problem), the Perle of Great Price does not admit the admin made mistakes in iWaq, he just “did not deny” it. Same old symptoms. Hey, freedom’s untidy. Oopsie. Sorry about all those dead folks, er, I mean, "collateral damage."

Action Alert: Call Joe Lieberman Day 

I was going to suggest this myself, based on Josh Marshall's reading of a certain squishiness in Joe Lieberman's position on SS reform which, if you haven't read it, you can and should by clicking here. But Blogger wouldn't let me do it when I was ready to, on the weekend.

I couldn't be happier that Atrios got the same idea - to call the Senator, and let someone on his staff know that Democratic voters won't stand for anyone undermining the unity of the Democrats on this one. Atrios has a huge number of readers, of course, including probably a lot of our readers. This is the kind of taking action I've been trying to talk about.

Do insist on talking to a staff member. Be prepared to quickly knock down the offending memes, i.e., there's a crises, and to insist on the facts, i.e., even the President isn't claiming that private accounts will solve the problem of the baby boomers retiring, remember to mention that we've been paying an excess into SS for twenty years, which Bush has spent givine the top one % of Americans a tax cut. Let him know we're watching, and if it means a grassroots effort to find someone to oppose him in a Democratic primary, we're up for that. Most of all, no private accounts as a carve-out from SS, only as an optional add-on, primariy for low-income earners.

All the numbers you info and numbers you need you can find at Eschaton, here and here. Also in the comments, Oleary, who made the call, has some good advice.

If you can't call today, do so tomorrow. Get your friends and family to call. And be polite, firm, and knowledgeable.

Quo Vadis, Sophie? 

It might be worth remembering that on this date in 1943, a young lady named Sophie Scholl was murdered (“executed”) by the Nazis. Sophie, a student at the University of Munich, and her brother Hans, along with some other enlightened and very brave folks, began, of course, the group known as The White Rose— Die Weiße Rose. They dedicated themselves to resisting the Nazis.

They printed leaflets back then. If they were around today, they’d probably be bloggers. This quote comes from the first leaflet they published, knowing full well it could mean death to do so:

"Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be ruled without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to its basest instincts. Certainly today, every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any concept of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes, crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure, reach the light of day?"

They painted anti-Nazi slogans on walls. They were finally arrested after several more leaflets, and on this date Sophie, Hans and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine after only days in prison.

Sophie Scholl was 21 years old when she was killed. The wingers would love to use her as an example of an anti-appeasement poster child. I say no. You will notice she didn’t use violence, but particularly advocated non-violent resistance. Resistance to a government that controlled every part of society, invaded countries without provocation, used and advocated torture while agitating for “decency,” and hated leftists. Oh, and Sophie was a Christian—the kind that used to be held up as examples of the faith.

Que Viva!

Wag the Dog: Bush right on schedule! 

This morning, Krugman warns us:

The campaign against Social Security is going so badly that longtime critics of President Bush, accustomed to seeing their efforts to point out flaws in administration initiatives brushed aside, are pinching themselves. But they shouldn't relax: if the past is any guide, the Bush administration will soon change the subject back to national security.
(via NY Times)

This afternoon, the story breaks:

A Virginian who had been detained in Saudi Arabia as a suspected terrorist was charged Tuesday with conspiring to assassinate President Bush and with supporting the al-Qaida terrorist network.
(via AP)

Is Krugman good, or what? When do the domestic roundups begin?

Of course, I'm sure the Saudis didn't torture the Virginian. And I'm also sure that the US didn't send the Virginian (a US citizen?) to Saudi Arabia to be tortured under extraordinary rendition procedures. I mean, that would mean that Bush was willing to torture people to gain a smidgeon more political capital. Which is clearly tinfoil hat territory.

So, we can forget all that. I'm sure that this latest terror alert is, like all the others, extremely non-political. Phew! My faith in His Godliness was shaken there for a minute!

NOTE Now we know the answer to the question of why Bush endorses anti-Semitic Saudi conferences. You scratch my back...

UPDATE Yes, according to Reuters, the Virginian is a US citizen.

How odd, then, that he was picked up by the Saudis and held in Saudi since 2003. I wonder why that would be?

The prosecutor is Paul McNulty. Presumably he's been tasked, on the 4th circuit's "Rocket Docket," with establishing a precedent for extracting testimony under torture. (Not, of course, that Bush would ever use such testimony for a bump in the polls.)

I don't envy McNulty his job, since testimony extracted using cruel and unusual punishment is useless. Then again, I guess that just means they'll have to try the guy in the press instead of the courts.

Hertzberg Does Gannon/Guckert 

If it sounds like that title is an intentional innuendo, it isn't. Every other configuration, like say, Hertzberg on Gannon/Guckert seemed as innuendo-bound, but then isn't it true that Gannon/Guckert's life as we've come to know it is as rippling with innuendo as it is with muscles of all varieties.

Anyway, The New Yoker has it here, so give yourself a treat and go read. I sometimes wish that Hendrick would let more of his emotions show, but he's a wonderful writer who mainly gets the politics right. Okay, I could have written "correct," but the right wing has manged to make it into an even dirtier word than right wing.

Sometimes I wish Hertzberg's pieces were longer, but he manages to be pithy and say what needs saying; I especially like that he picks up what Al Franken has been delighting in - that the famous new conference question one sees played endlessly, about what crazy Harry and crazy Hillary said about the economy was actually a quote never uttered by either Senator, but made-up by Rush Limbaugh, who was delighted to claim authorship of the phony quote. How many degrees of irony is that? I lose count so easily.

I'm reading Hertzberg's new book, "Politics, Observations and Arguments 1966-2004," and it's terrific. You younger readers should have it on your bookshelf. I lived through those years as an adult, and I'm still enjoying it...Holy Moly, has it really been that long that I've been reading, you, Rick?

George & Condi's Excellent Adventures 

The president's European trip will be just that, an excellent adventure; we know that in advance, don't we. Because that excellence has nothing to do with how effective the trip is in achieving its vaguely stated goal. The adventure will be excellent, because the president will strut his stuff, play a bit at diplomacy, give flight to a bit of his speechwriters' soaring rhetoric here and there, and come home a conquering hero, at least as seen from the vantage point of his base.

Despite all the talk of fence-mending, we know that George W., so adept at wearing his cowboy hat and boots and clearing brush, is incapable of mending anything, especially if he's the one who broke it. To mend what one has broken could be seen as an admission that one is responsible for what got broke. And President Bush doesn't do "responsibility." He likes to talk a lot about getting "results," but the truth is this president doesn't do "results," either, except in the highly limited sense of being able to achieve narrowly defined goals when he controls all the levers of power, as in the case of his massive tax cuts for the wealthy, or his befuddled prescription drug benefit that benefits primarily the drug companies that helped finance his campaigns. Any result that requires leadership you can forget about. George Bush can't persuade those who don't already agree with him, because he finds the act of doing so demeaning.

But his base is feeling good about his trip to Europe. Yesterday on Fox News, William Kristol and Charles Krauthamer were sure that the President's vision of a world freed from its chains, liberated and democratic, would prove impossible for Europeans to sneer at. If not the leaders, then the people of Europe couldn't help but be moved. Such sentiments were echoed through-out the SCLM. I don't know why it's so difficult for media types to understand that for most people around the world, there is a relationship between words and deeds, or at least it's thought that there should be, and when there isn't, people get skeptical about the words.

What are European attitudes at the start of the president's adventure? Lucky us, the AP did a poll.
Check it out and then tell me, how many minds do you think he might change? (Not counting leaders; apparently, they still feel the need to do a little dance when an American president whistles a jig.)

In other news from our far-flung world-wide committments, various NGOs, Care, OxFam, Women's Edge Coalition, are urging the US to revise its anti-drug strategy in Afghanistan. Apparently, we have one now. A bit late, and all that, but it appears we intend to go after those poppy fields.
Because farmers can make as much as ten times the income of other crops, opium has not only become the country's biggest export, the opium trade now accounts for almost 40 percent of Afghanistan's total economy.

According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the amount of land under poppy cultivation increased by nearly 240 percent and opium production by 73 percent from 2003 to 2004.

As a result, the nearly 20,000 U.S. military troops and the 7,000 members of the International Support Assistance Force (ISAF) are being pressed to add counter-drug operations to their security and counter-insurgency efforts.

The Bush administration allocated US$780 million to that end for 2005, about two thirds of which is to be spent on eradication.

Oy. Not such a good idea, say those who are working most directly with Afghans. I'll bet you can guess why without me, or Jim Lobe telling you. But read the article anyway. Remember the president talking about a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, back in the summer of '03? Another result not achieved. But non-results have their own kind of results - in Afghanistan, it's all those acres and acres of poppys.

Remember Bush's recent inaugural address, the one where he committed America to standing tall next to and on behalf of the oppressed more or less everywhere? Well, turns out what he meant was that we'd do so as long as doing so didn't conflict with any of the American right wing's profound beliefs about the way the world should be organized.

Initially, you'll remember, the Bush administration displayed genuine concern for what was happening to the black Sudanese of Darfur. Colin Powell proclaimed what was happening there to be genocide. The UN completed its own investigation and decided a finding of genocide might not be the best way to go about getting something done for the people currently suffering. The UN wants to send criminal referrals to the ICC, the International Criminal Court, not a favored institution on the right. Jim Lobe tells you about the growing pressure on the Bush administration to agree, in spite of the AEI, or the Heritage Foudation.

I'm not smart enough to know who is right here. But Samantha Powers came down on the side of the UN in this oped in the NYTimes. Randy Paul endorsed her points here, and Eugene Oregon at Demogogue raises some questions about the Powers piece here and here. All of it well worth your time and attention, because all those people, those beautiful mothers and children and fathers and grandparents, (I'm not being sentimental, I don't know what it is about Northern Africa, but it produces some of the most handsome humans to have ever walked the earth), standing together, staring out at our cameras, in the empty sprawl of those camps, already traumatised, unable to go back to their homes, and with nowhere else to go, they're still there, without sufficient water, shelter, and food, waiting for the world to care enough to settle on a plan of action.

UPDATE: Excellent adventure for George and Condi, but for no one else if this report in the Independent is correct, although even I, as skeptical as they come about this administration, have trouble believing this one.

As the leader of the free world George Bush is known to be a busy man. There have also been question-marks in the past over his attention span and dislike of protracted debate, but, even by the standards of the Bush White House, the assembled heads of Europe will be given short shrift tomorrow when they gather to address the President of the United States.

President Bush arrived in Brussels last night for his week-long tour of Europe. When 25 elected heads of state assemble tomorrow in the Justus Lipsius building, which houses the Council of Ministers, eleven of them have been chosen to address the US President on an international matter of importance, they will be allocated a minimal amount of time ­ the betting is five minutes each.

Read the rest; I leave it to you whether to laugh or to weep.

Nur-al-Cubicle left this link in the comments which will take you to this uh, telling photo of George and Condi having their maybe not all that excellent adventure.

Goodnight, moon 

Too tired to look at the blueprints pinned up on the wall. Sorry!

On the one hand, if Street actually manages to wire the city, and it isn't some kind of thinly veiled extortion scheme where they cave into Comcast at the last possible minute for some cash and a player to be named later, he can be Mayor for life, in my book.

On the other hand, the pay to play stuff stinks, and stinks all the worse because its so petty.

And how come they can clean City Hall for the eyes, but the stink of urine and disinfectant wafting up from the City Hall subway station still assaults my nose?

Our new motto: Philly! WTF!

Monday, February 21, 2005

And speaking of brownshirts... 

Here's a chilling little item about vigilantes—oh, I'm sorry, independent watchdogs"—on the border:

Intent on securing the vulnerable Arizona border from illegal immigrant crossings, U.S. officials are bracing for what they call a potential new threat this spring: the Minutemen.

Nearly 500 volunteers have already joined the Minuteman Project, anointing themselves civilian border patrol ... [Organizers] believe the Minuteman Project is the largest of its kind on the southern border.

It may also prove to be a magnet for what Glenn Spencer, president of the private American Border Patrol, described as camouflage-wearing, weapons-toting hard-liners who might get a little carried away with their assignments.

Carried away?! Heck, they're just working toward der Fuhrer. They know what He really wants, so they do that without waiting for orders....

"How are they going to keep the nutcases out of there? They can't control that," said [Glenn] Spencer, whose 40-volunteer group, based in Hereford, Ariz., has used unmanned aerial vehicles and other high-tech equipment to track and report the number of border crossings for more than two years.
(via AP)

The answer: They aren't going to keep the nutcases out, and they don't want to.

But the beauty part? AP is quoting Glenn Spencer as if he weren't an MBF, which he is. Orcinus, as usual, has the goods. A classic case of wingers injecting fascist memes into the mainstream.

Wingers: Gays are the new Jews 

Honestly, look here (Kos), or here (Atrios). It's reminiscent of nothing so much as a Goebbels poster from the '30s—that crude, that vile, that militaristic, and that demented.

Yes, the VWRC is cranking up the noise machine to do its level best to make American gayfrei.

There And Back Again, Again 

Digby has a wonderful remembrance of the Gonzo man, himself., that "brilliant goddamned beast," Hunter S. Thompson. It will indeed be a lonelier world without him, but Digby helps to make the loss a little less so. Go read.

In addition, take a look at this post, wherein Digby links to a mind-numbingly dumb op ed by Tony Blankely, and don't we know that some demon or other arranged for this clown to have that name the better to tempt us into bad punning, in which Tony, he of the always striped shirts, writes of Larry David, the actual character as opposed to its creator, the actor-comic-writer also called Larry David, who is responsible for that splendid HBO series, "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Seems Tony finds the Larry David character entirely admirable, and entirely conservative/rightwing. Notice how the right is always trying to co-opt the creativity of the left? Know why? Go ahead guess.

Now that The Poor Man has become accustomed to his new diggs, he's as funny and as trenchent as ever. A recent personal favorite that you might have missed, if your first response to the new look of the blog was temporary avoidance, is this one:
Falling Reenlistment Rates Among Right Wing Pundits Threaten War On Terror

BLOGOSPHERE (Reuters) - Declining rates of reenlistment among right-wing pundits are forcing units on the home front in the War on Terror to operate at partial strength, limiting their effectiveness, say media sources. Factors such as long tours of duty, fierce and costly battles against a ruthless and evil enemy, and carpal tunnel syndrome have taken a severe mental and physical toll on the conservative punditry, and many pundits are opting not to enlist for second or third tours. There are rumors that a draft may be necessary to ensure that cable news, talk radio and the blogosphere have sufficient manpower to defeat the terrorists and their liberal allies.

Col. William Safire is retiring after a thirty year career in the media trenches. “A soldier’s got to know when his time is up, when it’s time to return to civilian life. My time has come. I’ve been in battle my whole life, from the Battle of Bert Lance to the War of Lewinski, I’ve fought whenever and wherever my handlers needed me. But it’s time for me to go. It’s like the saying says: old pundits never die, they just fade away …”

But retirement is not the only problem. Staff Sgt. Andrew Sullivan, recuperating at the Provincetown Home for Exhausted Critics, had very different reasons for leaving the battlefield.
Read the rest to find out Andrew's reasons, as well as Jonah Goldberg on active duty, and perhaps most delicious of all, The Editors" interview with "Wretchard," identified as "chief strategist at the New Media Center for Strategic Studies, run by Glenn Reynolds, Grand Field Marshall of All Blogospheric Forces." Well, what are waiting for?

John McKay over at Archy has a wonderful post on Vexillological meditation. No, I didn't know what it meant either. Suffice to get you over there to read it to say that he's working off a student's letter filed at David Horowitz's complaint line for wounded conservative students. While there, don't miss this wonderfully interesting essay on possible approaches to writing a history of environmentalism.

Another "you daren't miss" belongs to Fafnir of Fafblog. With the through-the-looking-glass brilliance we've come to associate with Fafblog, Fafnir unthreads the bloody knot of liberal treason, the better for all of us to stop committing it. I can only tell you that I read of my own patriotic failures with increasing horror, and a determination to serve my country better. You can and should find it here.

And finally, Michael Berube has revealed his own votes for the various categories of the Koufax Awards, and for all of us at Corrente, there was a thrilling surprise. I hesitate to say more since my own admiration for Professor Berube, which predates his blogging career by a numberof years, is always in danger of descending into fandom. Let's leave it at there were squeals of delight to be heard through-out the mighty Corrente building. As always when you pay a visit to Michael's blog, don't fail to read the comments thread, they are among the best anywhere, and completely worthy of the maestro.

UPDATE: As often happens with an international blog, posts can pass one another unseen, as ships in the night, which is what happened while I was there but hadn't quite got back again, with Tresy's wonderful piece, directly below on Hunter Thompson. Please do not miss it.


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

--Dylan Thomas

But of course, Doctor Gonzo's words did fork lightning, though perhaps few of our readers remember that era when, more than perhaps any of the other enfants terribles--Capote, Mailer, Wolfe--Thompson blew apart the staid conventions of journalism like Hendrix dynamited the blues. Reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in real time, with its ink-splattered illustrations by Ralph Steadman mirroring HST's psychotic, yet transcendental odyssey through the fascist underbelly of the American Dream, was the closest I think I ever came to the fabled "contact high" that psychedelic evangelists believed could open up the doors of perception for everyone. Completely uniniterested in the line between fact and fiction, journalist and participant, sanity and insanity, the deadly serious and the utterly profane, FLLV knocked the stuffing out of a profession that, in a world coming apart at the seams, desperately needed it. At the time, everything seemed possible. And lest we misremember him as a heartless misanthrope, there was always his famous endorsement-that-wasn't-an-endorsement of Jimmy Carter, "Jimmy Carter and the Great Leap of Faith." Inside the bitterest cynic is always a hopeless idealist.

Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad, but because Hunter beat them to it, they made him a celebrity instead. From Hells Angel outlaw to Doonesbury cartoon character is probably more of an indignity than any of us could take, though Thompson gave it his best shot. Then, of course, there were the drugs, which ceased to be a literary asset circa 1978. Finally, there was simply Reality's ability to concoct, in the procession of political charlatans and pigfuckers that we've been saddled with since Nixon, a bad trip even Thompson couldn't transmute into psychedelic gold.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Now we know what the pros do when the going doesn't even have weirdness to recommend it any more. At least he didn't end up a literary organ grinder monkey, like Tom Wolfe.

Lambert has more.

Bonnie's Father, John Raitt, He Never Lost His Chops: RIP 

I'm sure he will. RIP. He led a worthy Quaker life, and produced a wonderful daughter, who, like her father, was a great artist and a great citizen.

It's easy to lose track of what a big star Raitt was. He created Billy Bigelow in Carousel on Broadway; there was no bigger musical leading man except Alfred Drake. I can remember, as a very little girl, seeing John Raitt in the touring company of "The Pajama Game." (Our parents believed in taking their kids to the theatre, lucky us) It's saying something to observe that John Raitt singing "Hey There," stayed as vivid a memory as did the sensational Fosse-choreographed number, "Steam Heat," with the equally sensational Carol Haney.

Then Bonnie grew up and started singing. She was always a personal favorite of mine, even before she became, after many years of being an artist, a genuine star. Because John Raitt had struck me as so all-American, I'd assumed that Bonnie, with her lefty leanings and sympathies, had fallen a bit aways from the tree. I learned something about my own prejudices when I learned what an all-American lefty John had always been. The generosity between daughter and father was a delight to behold.

Even in his late eighties, John Raitt was so vigorous, still singing, still supporting his daughter's support of all the good causes, it's a shock to realize he's left us. But his is also a wonderful life to contemplate; John Raitt maintained his chops, as a singer, a muscian, a father, and a citizen, right to the end.

Six Bush media whores down. 194 to go. Who are they? 

Remember that Bush has a budget for 200 media whores "Pair Policy Advocates" like Guckert, and so far we only know about a few them ("PR stands for Paying Republicans," (back). Frank Rich summed up the state of play nicely yesterday:

By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting," went the script) pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.
(via WaPo)

Oh, well, what's a little illegality when there's a war on? The war against Those Who Deny Bush Fealty, of course, and the Constitution. Not that Whack thing, or the Gaslight thing. Those are just sideshows. But I digress...

And how about the money trail? Rich continues:

The money that paid for both the Ryan-Garcia news packages and the Armstrong Williams contract was siphoned through the same huge public relations firm, Ketchum Communications, which itself filtered the funds through subcontractors. A new report by Congressional Democrats finds that Ketchum has received $97 million of the administration's total $250 million P.R. kitty, of which the Williams and Ryan-Garcia scams would account for only a fraction. We have yet to learn precisely where the rest of it ended up.

And I'm sure the Republicans in Congress ("It's your money!") will be happy to tell the taxpayers that their dollars were going to fund a covert, domestic disinformation campaign.

You remember Ketchum, of course. The PR firm that wants to "own the blogosphere". Say, I wonder if those paragons of blogging integrity, PowerLine, got any bucks? How about Glenn?

Bush "secret" tapes: We laughed, we yawned 

Oh my. Another big scoop from the World's Greatest Newspaper (not!)

Weead himself says:

Ninety percent of the tapes have not been heard.
(via WaPo)

I wonder why?

Probably the parts about Bush torturing small animals as a child were left on the cutting room floor, for example.

Whack: Bush opens back channel to the Sunnis 

But I thought we didn't negotiate with terrorists?

U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq's Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported yesterday, citing Pentagon and other sources.
(via WaPo)

Meanwhile Chalabi sticks his oar in:

Controversial Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi told ABC's "This Week" yesterday that any deals between insurgents and the U.S. military would not be binding on a new Iraqi government.

What's angle is Chalabi working now? "Let's you and him fight?"

So, if NPR ignores our blogs, why are we funding them? 

Just asking.

Since even the laziest factcheckers would discover that Atrios, Kos, and Josh Marshall are right there at the top of the list.

So why would NPR ignore them? Change of ownership, maybe?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hunter Thompson 


The father of us all.

Googling on hooded officer, I find the full text of his masterwork, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Note, in the story, the lede: Who, What, Where, Why, When. Thompson, indeed, had chops.

So we parted company. He accepted a command in the South China Sea, and I became a Doctor of Gonzo Journalism...and many years later, killing time in the Las Vegas airport this terrible morning, I picked up a newspaper and saw where the Captain had fucked up very badly:

Ship Commander Butchered by Natives After “Accidental” Assault on Guam.
(AOP)-Aboard the USS. Crazy Horse: Somewhere in the Pacific (Sept. 25)-The entire 3485-man crew of this newest American aircraft carrier is in violent mourning today, after five crewmen including the Captain were diced up like pineapple meat in a brawl with the Heroin Police at the neutral port of Hong See. Dr. Bloor, the ship's chaplain, presided over tense funeral services at dawn on the flight deck. The 4th Fleet Service Choir sang “Tom Thumb's Blues” . . . and then, while the ship's bells tolled frantically, the remains of the five were set afire in a gourd and hurled into the Pacific by a hooded officer known only as “The Commander.” Shortly after the services ended, the crewmen fell to fighting among themselves and all communications with the ship were severed for an indefinite period. Official spokesmen at 4th Fleet Headquarters on Guam said the Navy had “no comment” on the situation, pending the results of a top-level investigation by a team of civilian specialists headed by former New Orleans district attorney James Garrison.

... Why bother with newspapers, if this is all they offer? Agnew was right. The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits- a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.

Well. Um. Does that sound like Whack, or what? Hooded officers at Abu Ghraib, and all.

Only the young die good...

NOTE The title of Thompson's last book: "Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and The Downward Spiral of Dumbness." I'd say that about sums it up.

Goodnight, moon 

As I thumb the last pushpin into the wall of my tiny room under the stairs, and gaze up at the blueprint of the new Great Hall of The Mighty Corrente Building...

Well, two blueprints, actually. I'm just a bit more elevated than I thought I would be, after I threw the first bottle under the bed....


And speaking of blogger's massive and continuing suckitude, leah, farmer, Tom, Tresy, Xan, and RDF, could you please check your mail? I'm reminding you only because I never check my mail.... Thanks.

Wars and Rebellions and Other Hellish Matters 

More US troops to Afghanistan. And, apparently, Dana Rohrabacher's buddies are laying low for the time being. Associated Press:
U.S. Doubles Number of Troops Inside Afghan Army; Taliban Official Says Harsh Winter Curtailing Attacks

[Via Digby] A veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert told the Weekly, "If Dana’s right-wing fans knew the truth about his actual, working relationship with the Taliban and its representatives in the Middle East and in the United States, they wouldn’t be so happy." ~ Rohrabacher's Taliban pals

Spain and the EU. Spain votes on EU charter and General Francisco Franco's old ostentiferous left behind legionaires of Christ aren't too happy about it. Via the The Observer (UK) :
Franco followers and bishops urge a boycott of EU vote

In a last stand by traditionalists and erstwhile supporters of General Franco's dictatorship, Roman Catholics in Spain are being urged to boycott today's referendum on a European constitution as a way of censuring the socialist government for advocating gay marriage and wider access to abortion.


Last month, after the Cardinal of Madrid, Antonio Rouco Varela, led a delegation to the Vatican, Pope John Paul II expressed support for the bishops' position, saying he was 'concerned to see a mentality creeping into Spain that is inspired by secularism and which progressively leads to restrictions in religious freedom'.

The Pope listed his objections to socialist Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero's policies on sexuality, embryo research and increased abortion rights. He also criticised the socialist government for considering withdrawing compulsory religious education, as introduced by former conservative Prime Minister José Maria Aznar.

Sounds familiar doesn't it? I hope William Donohue is taking notes.

Meanwhile, in the land of Jacob and jeremiads:
Israel backs Gaza settlement plan | Sun Feb 20, 2005 (Reuters UK)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's government has approved the first evacuation of settlers from occupied land Palestinians want for a state, ratifying a divisive Gaza pullout plan seen as a possible springboard to peace talks.


Sharon's "unity" cabinet voted 17-5 to ratify his "disengagement" plan, effectively giving settlers five months' notice to get out. But further ministerial votes will be needed for each of the four phases of the evacuation process.

"The evacuation of settlements is a difficult step, a very difficult one," Sharon, once considered the godfather of the settler movement, said as he convened his cabinet. "But it is a crucial step for the future of the state of Israel."

Sharon has fought for over a year to get his withdrawal plan past far-rightists, including some within his own Likud party, who are loath to cede an inch of occupied land.

Polls show most Israelis welcome a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, but ultranationalists say it would be a "reward for Palestinian terrorism" and many settlers believe the land is theirs by biblical birthright.

The settlers, reasonable mild mannered god fearin' prairie folk that they are, have expressed a growing dissatisfaction over the resettlement proposals and have taken to registering their objections with the authorities that be:

February 14, 2005. Via the Cleveland Jewish News and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

(JTA) - Sharon: Cabinet members threatened
Ariel Sharon said extremists opposed to his Gaza withdrawal plan were threatening Cabinet members. "There are pressures and threats against ministers and members of the faction, both from within the Likud and by outside groups such as Kach and Yesha" settlers council, the Israeli prime minister told Likud Party faithful in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

(JTA) - Politicians under fire
Dozens of Israeli officials are under protection for fear they could be targeted by Jewish extremists. Security sources said Sunday that as many as 80 civil servants, including Cabinet members, are receiving Shin Bet protection following a spate of death threats attributed to Israelis opposed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. "Wake up before it is too late," Dalia Rabin, the daughter of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, wrote in Yediot Achronot. "If we do not do enough now to stop the deterioration, we will again witnesses the horrible sight of a another prime minister's murder." According to the daily, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit had received a letter threatening the lives of his wife and children.

February 15, 2005

(JTA) - Sharon aide speaks out
An aide to Ariel Sharon urged Israelis to stop anti-government incitement. "I feel as though I am in an earthquake," Marit Danon, who has served under several Israeli leaders, including the assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, told Yediot Achronot on Tuesday. "If, God forbid, another prime minister is murdered, I will not be able to continue living here. I cannot understand the public's indifference, the complete lack of action by the authorities responsible for dealing with these things." Danon spoke out as death threats mounted against members of the government by right-wing extremists opposed to Sharon's plan to withdraw soldiers and civilians from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank this summer. According to Israeli media, Sharon has requested protection for the grave of his wife Lily, fearing it could be vandalized.

Right Wing Refuseniks:
(JTA) As withdrawal date nears, prospect of army refusal

As the scheduled start of Israel's Gaza withdrawal approaches, settler leaders are raising the specter of mass refusal by religious soldiers to carry out orders and are warning of disastrous consequences for the Israeli army and society as a whole.


The refusal controversy has sparked a national debate, at the heart of which is the issue of state sovereignty versus rabbinical authority. The debate raises worrying questions: If there is widespread civil disobedience and refusal to carry out army orders, will Israeli society be dangerously divided? Could such a rift scuttle the withdrawal?

There have been cases of left-wingers advocating refusal to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip or to carry out missions in populated areas, but those calls for disobedience never approached critical mass. On Sunday, however, settler leaders called a meeting with IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, to warn of an impending crisis.


National religious Jews, who make up most of the settler population, serve in the army, and take strong right-wing positions, face the most acute dilemma: On the one hand, they see settling the land of Israel as a necessary step toward the coming of the Messiah, and they accept rabbinical rulings; on the other, they're loyal to the state of Israel and its institutions.

All hell should break loose sometime early Monday morning. I predict Jesus Christ will be rolling into Trenton, New Jersey by late afternoon so have your Rapture-ready fanny packs ready to airlift outta here round 5:30 or sixish. Anyone refused passage will be left behind and subject to the mercy of Dana Rohrabacher, the Taliban, retro-fascist Catholics, and the right wing prairie folk from the land of Nod. And frivolous lawsuits from JD Love Guckert. Good luck, see ya all later at the Fluffy Cloud & Harp for cocktails.


"Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - former first lady Barbara Bush - "Good Morning America" March 18, 2003


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